So winning is a strategy, isn’t it? Go ahead, give your heavy sigh as you lament another top social media engagement and growth lists in sports and are #syh that 75% of them were champions or close to it.
But winning is not the main thing these teams, and the best brands, have in common with their social media strategy.
It’s a plan to seize the spotlight for those fleeting moments it’s shining brightly.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking with several brilliant leaders in sports and social media. A common theme recurs over and over again — they plan to win and they have a plan to capitalize on the moment.
Whether it’s a big whopper of a news story you have in the can, a major announcement, a long winning streak, or an impending championship, don’t light up a cigar and watch the fire of organic growth and engagement. Throw gasoline on it. And, by all means, remember to have gasoline at the ready!
Today, more than ever, the sum of the parts of a sports organization equal synergy and success. Have creative and video prepared. Know what marketing needs to fire (and have the copy and campaign, landing page and analytics, ready), loop in merchandise, make sure ticket sales has a plan to strike while the iron is hot, know what PR and social should do with the a chance to make a mountain out of a mole hill, and make sure partners are activated and considered.
A few quick examples that jump to mind:
Gatorade and Under Armor, while not exactly active participants in major sports events supporting their ad spend with conversation and constant content, always have that gorgeous graphic in the can, ready to celebrate their athletes’ achievements; always eye-catching and always on-brand. Watch next time one of their athletes has a winning weekend and see how they’re not empty-handed, going with something simple from Getty and a branded hash tag; they have something to share with pride. Because they were prepared for the win.
Toyota Racing had a helluva day at the 2016 Daytona 500, as drivers in their cars, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., finished first and second, respectively (separated by a mere 0.10 seconds!). I had been following the Daytona 500 Twitter Moment and had tweeted about the event myself. The result? A well-targeted and timed ad in my timeline about 30 minutes or so after the event ended. It was a generic auto racing ad; clearly properly prepared for NASCAR’s opening day. But marketing is nimble and moves a mile a minute; not unlike a race car. To maximize spend and truly, to use Twitter’s terminology, amplify the efficacy of their ads, they should have had that winning plan ready to go with the push of a button. Have ads personalized with drivers, if possible, or at least something touting the Toyota brand taking home a title. That is wishful, and perhaps unfairly wishful, thinking on my part, but the ability is coming, if not already here, to be so agile. And winners better be ready.
Finally, the Atlanta Hawks, who I learned about, in particular from a conversation with Micah Hart, are one of the sports teams that get it. Some stumble into surprising seasons and stand on their success one day at a time. The Hawks knew what they were doing the whole time — from increasing their already experimenting and playful propensity on Twitter, Facebook, and marketing, in general, to integrating content with a focus on commerce in between. And building a distinct, relate-able brand to which fans could connect, to remain fans even when the non-stop winning ended.
So if you find yourself sitting on some salacious story or riding a wave of wins like never before or, better yet, hoisting a championship flag, will you have a plan to maximize your winning hand?
Sports and sports business are unpredictable, by nature. But big stories and big wins happen every day. So much is out of our control. Take advantage of what is. Be ready.